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Data-Driven Marketing

How to Optimize Your Brand's Marketing Tech Stack

How many different apps, platforms and pieces of software does your marketing team really use? Here's how to evaluate your marketing tech and simplify.

13 mins read time
Bridget Deutz
Bridget Deutz

Mar 05, 2020

How many different apps, platforms and individual pieces of software does your marketing team use? Do the monthly subscription fees add up to headache-inducing proportions? It seems like everything these days has a fee, and that it takes 10 different tools to achieve the complexity of online marketing. Your marketing tech stack could empower your business growth, or it could be what’s holding you back. 

What Does Your Tech Stack Need to Do? 

Marketing has evolved into much more than just sending an email or creating an ad. You’re not singularly responsible for hooking new customers anymore. You're now responsible for "pipeline, revenue, renewal, upsell, cross-sell, customer engagement, and advocacy." It’s time to think beyond leads and consider the real responsibility of the modern marketer: to grow the business. 

Growth means different things to different businesses, but the endgame is to increase leads, increase conversions, increase revenue, and then build systems to keep that machine in motion. You’ve got the big picture to consider. There’s good news and bad news about that. 

The good news is you have technology at your fingertips to help you analyze data, create a more effective campaign, and connect with people at every stage. There are tools to help you ideate, automate, publish, and analyze every element of your marketing. 

The bad news is that you end up accumulating a marketing tech stack that possibly hinders productivity while pretending to help you. To grow your brand, you need to streamline your marketing tech.

Ask the Right Tech Stack Questions

Every marketing department’s technology goal should be to automate or assist select tasks at every step of the marketing pipeline. Too often, marketers become magpies - tempted by every exciting new tool or promising new software. Unfortunately, all tools are not created equally and they don’t all integrate well. Here are the questions you should ask to identify whether your tech stack is 10/10: 

Q. Can your tech stack help you accomplish the “big three”?

The “big three” in marketing is lead generation, lead conversion, and customer retention. Your technology needs to:

  1. Generate Leads. You can use a CRM to capture and better understand customers. Then, you can use marketing automation software to disperse organic messages across email, social media, and your own website. You’ll also want to make sure that you have a content marketing system that allows you to make quick and easy changes to your content, without code.

  2. Convert Leads.Once you’ve generated leads, your next task is to convert them into buying customers. Email automation tools and abandon cart flows will help you stay top of mind pre-purchase. Chat automation could help prospective buyers get their questions answered. You’ll need a tool or two to empower the purchase itself, too. Your purchasing technology might only require a simple but functional website form or call tracking number to kick things off, or you might be working with e-commerce software to sell products instead. While marketers won’t be making 100% of these POS technology decisions, their functionality could make or break the lead conversion you’re aiming for. 

  3. Retain Customers.For this part of your tech stack, focus on software that streamlines the customer journey and fosters repeat connections post-purchase. Use software that helps you capture reviews and testimonials, encourage referrals, and empower your customers to share products and content with their social followers and friends. This, in combination with thoughtful Customer Service tools, will be the system that automates future lead generation and maintains customer loyalty. 

Q. Are you Capturing the Right Data?

Your tech stack should be providing you with data that informs your future actions and improves this experience end-to-end. You’ll need analytics across your website, social channels, email, ads, and more. You will also need a CRM that holds all of the specific information your company needs on every customer. A tailored tech stack should focus on these analytics, including a sophisticated marketing automation platform and CRM. This will help you to track and analyze your people, their behaviors, and the performance of your campaigns.

Q. Does it Integrate?

We all know the saying “technology is great when it works.” That saying rings true here as much as anywhere. You can have two dozen apps, programs and plug-ins trying to integrate into your tech stack all at once and still be more inefficient than if you had none at all. When assessing integration, we want to see that different tools speak to one another, that data can be easily transferred from one software to another, and that you’re not getting the same data from 10 different tools. If you use a tool that doesn’t integrate with your others, and can’t be Zapped in using Zapier or similar, it’s time to replace it. 

Q. Does it Save Time or Cost Time? 

Marketers are busier now than they ever have been in the past. You need software and tech tools that help you create unique content, reach and delight your audience, and convert leads into buyers. If you find that your software does these things but it’s also hard to use, slow to operate, or takes more time than just doing it yourself, chuck it! The whole point of these platforms and tools is to save time, not cost it. 

Q. Is There Overlap? 

Freebies aside, most marketing tools require some kind of investment. Investing in marketing tools might feel like a no-brainer, as many of them will pay for themselves by bringing in new customers. This investment is a total waste, though, if your tools are duplicating the same work, providing you the same data, or worse - providing conflicting data that doesn’t match up. Don’t use tools that will only make more trouble for you and don’t pay for them either. 

Assess Your Stack

Let’s sit down together and flip through the software and tools you’re using now, so we can determine what’s serving you (and what obviously is not).

Step One:

Make a list of everything you log into, access, or use to perform marketing functions. This can include free and paid tools, browser tools and extensions, CMS plugins, addons, apps, and complete software applications. Take your time and think backward.

Step Two:

Next to each platform, write down the motivation behind it. What was it supposed to do and why did you adopt it in the first place? Was it a snap-decision based on the need to solve an immediate problem? Was it the FOMO you felt when all the other marketers started using it? Were you sold on the aesthetic, the brand story, or the cool demo at a recent conference? Did a consultant recommend it five years ago and you forgot you were paying for it? 

If you were motivated by any of these things, there’s likely something else out there that could serve you more efficiently.

Step Three:

Assess your use of the software or tool. Immediately deactivate anything you haven’t used in six months. You can also tell if an element of your tech stack isn’t integrating well with your process if there are facets of the software that you haven’t bothered to use yet. If you’re only actually utilizing 50 percent or less of a program’s functionality, cut it loose and find something that more fully suits your needs.

Step Four:

Of those that are being used consistently and properly, how many can be integrated, blended, or overlapped? Does overlapping different functions highlight any tools or services that can be removed? 

Step Five:

Hold your new, slimmer tech stack fully accountable. Set goals for each tool or software and write up the protocol for its use. Check in quarterly to make sure that each platform is still valuable. When you’re searching around for new tools, don’t assess those in a vacuum. Compare every feature and function to what you already have and eliminate accordingly. 

The bottom line is that you want the different elements of your tech stack to fully integrate and provide you with a streamlined marketing experience. There are plenty of companies out there today that are vying to get their fully integrated tech stack into the hands of marketing teams like yours. Take the time to make sure the software you add fits your company and lifts your marketing team up instead of frustrating and confounding your efforts. 

If you need help assessing your current marketing techstack and flow, let us know. Our experts would be happy to help you trim the fat in 2020. 

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Bridget Deutz

Bridget Deutz is an inbound marketing junkie. She has nearly ten years of experience in marketing and communications in both in-house and agency settings. Bridget has a Bachelor’s degree in Communication from The College of Saint Benedict & Saint John’s University. She is a digital marketing speaker sharing her expertise in content creation, marketing strategy, user experience, inbound marketing, and HubSpot software. In her free time, Bridget teaches piano and voice lessons, enjoys photography and hand lettering, digging in antique stores, musical theatre, and playing with her labradoodle Dolly. Above all else, Bridget cherishes time spent with her family and friends.

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